Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday Sayings: Their Lives Matter

I could go a million different directions with this quote, so I hope I can pull it all together.  Hold on, just in case my thoughts give you whiplash.  

My recent experience with persuasive writing is proof that writing is about the writer's life.  I believe this applies to all genres, but it's about as plain as day when a student writes persuasively to a local radio station and hears back in a big way.  (Read about that here.)  Pushing a topic and audience onto this writer would never have brought these results.  Neither would they have impressed upon him the all-important lesson that his life matters.  

Sometimes I wonder why teacher-given topics are so prevalent.  Is fear a factor?  My students don't know what they're doing.  They might flounder, so I'd better provide a scaffold.  Is it state testing?  My students must know how to write to a topic, because that's how they'll be tested.  I'm not sure that either reason is reason enough to remove choice from their lives.

"Don't steal your neighbor's thinking power."  My kids often hear me say this, because those pals of theirs need an opportunity to think before someone blurts out their own thoughts.  In essence, providing topics steals our writers' thinking power.  It handcuffs their right to think, to struggle for that idea that might turn into something extraordinary, to value their own experiences and thoughts, to find that their lives really do matter.  

When given the opportunity, they'll come up with their own ideas and creative ways to express them.  With the right guidance and practice, they'll be able to write successfully, even on that random day when a stranger expects them to write to a topic.  Their lives do matter and choice within writing teaches them just that. 

My apologies if you're currently recovering from the affects of whiplash, but you'll so want to make your way over to visit Dawn and Kerri as soon as you can.  They are my inspiring guests for the day, and I'm absolutely thrilled about it.  Please, please, please do pay them a visit!



Pin It!


  1. Tammy,

    "My recent experience with persuasive writing is proof that writing is about the writer's life... Their lives do matter and choice within writing teaches them just that."

    So beautiful and perfect. I experience this with young children and with my adult students in both Fiction writing and Education courses. It is all about their choice of writing that creates the relevancy and authenticity that IS real writing. Bravo and bravo!

    1. Dawn, thank you for cheering me on. I do appreciate your opinion. It means a lot to me!

  2. There are many days I wish we could just throw all the standards and objectives out the window and use our children's interests, ideas and knowledge and teach from there. It seems to me the days that I plan around my students interests and desire for knowledge are the most meaningful.

    I tell answer blurters that they are turning their friends into robots when they don't let them think for themselves!
    I'm going to borrow "Don't steal your neighbors thinking power!"
    Great saying!

    1. Jenny, there sure are times when it's more difficult to teach from the interests of the children. One of the things I love about writing is that it's so easily taught from that place. Love it!

  3. Real and authentic writing- yay! Definitely builds their confidence and because it is meaningful to them, they are interested enough to stick with it and build their skills. Love your saying about don't steal your neighbors thinking power!
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Lori, there's a long list of reasons why writing should be real and authentic, and you've named named some of the big ones!

  4. Just got home from Bible Study...have coffee...settling into my Saturday Saying morning. We just started a non-fiction unit, and are writing, "all about" books. One of my students begs to write...previously he did nothing! He is telling all about Roblox (something I know NOTHING about) but he does and he is so engaged in writing. It matters to his life! Great quote.

    Chickadee Jubilee

    1. Laurie, that's a perfect example. He would have certainly been handcuffed without permission to choose his own topic. Thank you for sharing that!

  5. My neck is fine. No whiplash here:)
    I agree with everything and that's how we roll, too, but I have noticed that when I assign a specific topic it really helps some of the kids realize they can move beyond their usual topics or genres. Some of them get really stuck with "I like" or "I play" and I find that a given topic with modelling beforehand can work wonders to nudge them out of their comfort zone. 80% of our writing is their choice, but I see value in the other, too, but in small doses.
    Thanks again for another thought provoking post!
    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs

    1. Barbara, glad to hear there's no whiplash! Some writers definitely need a nudge. We definitely have to know our writers and their needs. As always, thanks for adding your thoughts!